“What’s It To You?” by Dollar Store Riot
Single/Video review by Jerry Lardieri | Nov 16, 2015
It’s pretty safe to say that the 90’s were one of the best decades for music in the last century. It’s the decade that just won’t die. From the endless stream of reunion tours to the pop culture references in movies and television, the hits just keep on coming. Need more proof? I’ve got two words for you – cassette revival. I don’t know anyone who lived through it the first time that longs for the days of tangled tapes jamming matchbooks into the car stereo, so it must be the music that draws everyone back.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all perfect. There were plenty of crimes committed against our auditory wills. Those dreadful line dance songs that your aunt always requested at weddings. Nu-Metal. Auto-Tune. That horrendous Barbie song – a turd polished so brightly it could have blinded a mole from space. But there was a period of time in the early part of the decade where the pop confections of the day sat awkwardly on major radio playlists right along side some wonderful, fuzzy guitar drenched bliss, dished out by the great unwashed, proudly bashing away in their Chuck Taylors and flannel shirts. Can you imagine The Breeder’s “Cannonball” airing on top 40 radio stations today? I certainly cannot.
As we drift further and further away from this unusual time, it’s only normal that musicians and fans alike begin to look back on it fondly and revisit these sounds. But it’s not the kids (or rather than generalize, I should say it’s not MOST of the kids. As you were, Rock N’ Roll Hi Fives). Things have changed and there’s no going back. While my neighbors had to deal with the pounding of drums and squealing guitar amps in the garage, I live in relative peace and quiet in modern suburbia. Still, tranquil and utterly boring peace and quiet. Kids don’t want to “play guitar” any more; they want to “play” guitar.
I know, I sound like some crusty old codger complaining about “these kids today”. Excuse me while I chase a few of them off my lawn.
Where was I? Right, the 90’s…
SINGLE REVIEW: Luckily, all is not lost. There are still plenty of musicians like the affable and capable Dollar Store Riot, who have found that making music purely for the joy of it can be its own reward. Their new single “What’s It To You?” attacks with the familiar abandon of those long lost gems of the Clinton presidency. Thea Kearney’s direct and forceful vocal delivery echoes Joan Jett at times (in all the best ways) and there’s a clear hint of Sleepyhead in the songwriting and delivery. Brian Boehm, Paul Haley and Will Kramer propel the song forward with pleasing abandaon. It hits like a late summer wave, pushing you back on your knees a bit until you can steady yourself and sway in its swirling flow – until another time shift hits like the breaker you didn’t see coming.
Just like it’s loud and proud retro sound, the video shot at Maplewood’s Woodland Hall immediately recalls late nights on the couch waiting for 120 minutes to start. Shot as a live performance with a bit of comic relief added, it’s a reminder that you can be serious without taking yourself too seriously.
Let’s do the time warp again.
Jerry Lardieri Is in the NJ band Brixton Riot and a humble host of the excellent radio show Audible Affects, which broadcasts (not-so) live every Tuesday morning at 9 AM on Stevenson University’s Wild Stang Radio.